Friday, June 19, 2015

International peace monitors hail decommissioning of MILF weapons

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 19): International peace monitors hail decommissioning of MILF weapons

A multi-national team monitoring the implementation of the peace accord between the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front hailed on Friday this week’s decommissioning of weapons by Muslim rebels, describing it as a “historic step forward” in the implementation of the peace deal.

Alistair MacDonald, chairman of the Third-Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) that was set up by government and MILF panels to monitor the implementation of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), said the turnover of weapons “confirmed the MILF’s commitment to continue on the path to peace.

MacDonald, a former envoy of the European Union to Manila, said: “The first step in any journey is often the most difficult, and it is tremendously encouraging to see that this has pushed through, and that the journey has really begun, even at a time when the Bangsamoro Basic Law is still undergoing substantive discussions in Congress.”

The initial stage of decommissioning covered 75 high-powered or crew-served weapons and 145 MILF combatants even as a law that will give greater autonomy to minority Muslims in Mindanao remains pending in Congress.

MacDonald noted that the weapons were handed over to the Independent Decommissioning Body so that they may be put beyond use, and the former combatants be given support to help them return to a peaceful and productive civilian life.

It was, MacDonald said, “in no sense a surrender” as some critics claimed, “but rather an honorable fulfilment of commitments entered into by the government and the MILF in the CAB.”

Other members of the TPMT are: Rahib Kudto (United Youth for Peace and Development, Philippines), Huseyin Oruç (IHH, Turkey), Steven Rood (The Asia Foundation, USA), and Karen Tañada (Gaston Z Ortigas Peace Institute, Philippines).

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